The Palaszczuk Labor Government has made a mess of the release of additional volumes of water entitlements from the Gulf Water Resource Plan, while adopting contradictory processes for two major green field irrigation projects in the Flinders and Gilbert River catchments.
Shadow Minister for State Development and Natural Resources, Andrew Cripps, drew attention to the conflicting processes put in place by the Palaszczuk Government during budget estimates hearings for the State Development, Natural Resources and Mines portfolio last week.
Mr Cripps said Labor was allowing an EIS process for the proposed Three Rivers irrigation project to go ahead in the Flinders catchment at the same time as the release of almost 250,000 megalitres of water for competitive tender – likely to occur in the fourth quarter of this year.
“In contrast, the Palaszczuk Government has halted the release almost half a million megalitres of water in the Gilbert catchment until the current EIS process for the proposed IFED project has been completed – a position that is totally inconsistent” said Mr Cripps.
“Despite a live EIS process being underway, Minister Lynham confirmed during the estimates hearing that the proponents of the Three Rivers project would be competing with other potential users when the water is released in the Flinders catchment later this year” he said.
“There is now a contradictory situation in the Gilbert catchment, where Labor has determined that potential water users will be denied an opportunity to access additional volumes of water until after the EIS process for the IFED project has been completed”.
“Why is it that water can be released in the Flinders at the same time as a coordinated project (Three Rivers) is undertaking an EIS, while the release of water in the Gilbert has been suspended pending the finalisation of an EIS for a coordinated project (IFED)?”.
Mr Cripps said both the proposed water releases for the Flinders and Gilbert River catchments and both of the EIS process for the Three River and IFED projects where located in the area covered by the Gulf Water Resources Plan, which had undergone a full review in 2014.
“The Minister, Anthony Lynham, could not explain why Labor had two different positions regarding the release of unallocated water in catchments that had concurrent EIS processes underway, despite both of them being within a single water resource planning area”.
“Labor has made a complete mess of the water planning within the Gulf catchments and potential water users in the region will be wondering if they can have confidence in the process while it is being run by the Palaszczuk Government, which is making it up as it goes along”.